Amazon opens digital video download store

Posted by From the Web

Seattle (WA) - Amazon.com has officially launched its digital video download service, Amazon Unbox, which reportedly will allow customers to watch movies on their PC in DVD quality. According to the company, more than 30 movie studios and TV networks have already confirmed plans to provide content to Unbox.

Amazon will be offering movies for rent and purchase via download. Content can be downloaded to two different computers and can be stored on up to two portable media players that support Microsoft's "PlaysForSure" technology at the same time. All purchases are stored in the customer's Unbox account, and they can be re-downloaded on multiple computers.

Movies can also be downloaded and burned onto a DVD, but restrictions built into the video encoding will prevent the discs from being played on regular DVD players.

Amazon also offers a streaming option - downloaded videos can be watched during downloading. According to the company, the "typical" broadband user should be able to start watching within five minutes of ordering a movie.

Amazon claims that Unbox not only is the first video download service that offers DVD-like picture quality (VC-1 at 2500 kb/s).

TV episodes offer by Unbox will cost $1.99 each, which is on par with Itunes pricing. Movies, which iTunes does not yet offer, can be rented on Unbox for $3.99, or purchased prices ranging from $8 to $15. Most rentals are good for 30 days.

Available for the Unbox launch are a bevy of TV shows, including CSI, Star Trek, 24, and Breaking Bonaduce. There are also new and classic movies available, such as V For Vendetta, RV, Failure To Launch, and Ben Hur. Additionally, Amazon offers a selection of international videos from the UK, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong.

The Unbox software currently only supports Windows-based systems.